DETROIT—Nearing the end of June, high school football players across the country are in the final stretch of summer vacation, just over a month from the grueling, heat stricken two-a-day practices that coincide with the beginning of training camp in August.
Looking to stay sharp and build some chemistry, several of the top high school football teams in the state of Michigan came out of the weight room and made their way to Wayne State University Thursday to compete in a 7-on-7 tournament.
GoBlueWolverine was on hand for the action, singling out some top plays and performances from the high tempo competition:
2015 Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s CB Tyson Smith—Smith has clearly been spending some time bulking up this off-season and looked the part on both sides of the ball for the Eaglets on Thursday. Smith’s long-term future will be as a defensive back but Thursday he was a big offensive weapon, scoring on a few long touchdown catches, one of which he secured over the middle, beating defenders in a sprint to the end zone. Defensively, Smith showed nice awareness and a knack for finding the football, playing the position like a seasoned veteran, very confident in his abilities.
2016 Chandler Park (Mich.) Academy WR Jalen Martin—Potentially the next big receiving target and prospect to come out of Chandler Park after the departure of Csont’e York, Martin is already bigger than York and was a go to target for his team Thursday. Not the fleetest of foot, Martin makes up for it with his ability to locate the football in the air and come down with it, often the target of fades in the red zone. Martin’s legs are so long it doesn’t allow him to accelerate quickly but once up to full speed he can gallop away from people in a hurry. Martin will be someone to watch in his sophomore season this fall.
2015 Dewitt (Mich.) QB Jake Johnson—Coming off of a strong performance at the Michigan football camp, Johnson looked like the leader Dewitt is hoping he’ll be at the quarterback position this fall. In full command of his team and the offense, Johnson took his team down the field with ease, making tough throws through traffic against zone and man coverage. Johnson showed nice touch on his deep ball, hooking up with receivers for a couple of long ones. Johnson had one regrettable throw that was nearly picked off but came back to throw a touchdown on the same drive.
2017 Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s LB Josh Ross—Ross was playing with the varsity squad, subbing in and out with the older, veteran linebackers for the Eaglets, but made progress in his time on the field. Not getting his hand on any balls, though not having many opportunities, Ross relied on his instincts in coverage, still working on technique and clearly still working on footwork. Ross doesn’t look like a typical freshman though, looking very strong in the upper body with long arms, gaining valuable experience already.
2014 Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s CB/WR Jalen Watts-Jackson— The Michigan State commitment played both ways for Orchard Lake Thursday and was dynamic on either side of the ball. Watts-Jackson is long, quick and has terrific hands, catching everything thrown his way and making the most of it with yards after the catch. Watts-Jackson doesn’t have the size to be a huge red zone threat but is a perfectly reliable wide out that could easily become a go to target or favorite target for whomever throws him the football. Watts-Jackson appeared to have the best day overall.